The Other Side blog: A Red & Pleasant Land + Victorian Games
Our good friend, Mr Brannan over at The Other Side blog, has some thoughts on matching Zak S’s A Red & Pleasant Land with a more Victorian style RPG.
Plays Well with Others: A Red & Pleasant Land + Victorian Games
|The print version with ribbon.
I don’t think there are many of these left.
Time for another edition of Plays Well With Others!
A while back I picked up +Zak Smith‘s vampire-themed Alice in Wonderland mashup (though that does not really describe it) A Red & Pleasant Land. It is well reviewed and you can read my review here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2014/12/review-red-pleasant-land.html
What got me at the time is a.) how much I liked it and b.) how much I didn’t want to play it under D&D (any version). I started thinking about Alice, Dracula and this book I thought that what this book really needs is not a background of fantasy, even the Grimdark of LotFP or DCC, but the prim and proper sensibilities of a more refined time. Victorian England.
Think about it. I described the country, Voivodja, in AR&PL as Nightmare scape. Not an overt one like say the Hells, but a subtle one, and mostly a chaotic one. What a better contrast to the streets of fog soaked Victorian London? After all Voivodja isn’t in our world, it’s out there somewhere; down a rabbit hole or through the looking glass. Through a looking glass darkly. OR if it is, maybe it is an odd mirror. Page 14 of AR&PL will give you ideas. The difference now is that we are all using the same world. Unless your D&D game is set in Europe of course, then you are ahead.
There are a lot of great choices for games to use this with and each offers something special I think.
Cthuhlu by Gaslight
Cthuhlu by Gaslight is one of the best Victorian era magical games out there. CbG has rules, via Call of Cthuhlu, for dealing with the Dreamlands. This is a good way to get characters from the “real world” to Voivodja. Now Voivodja could be in our Carpathian Mountains or they could be in the analogue in the Dream lands. Who knows.
One thing I would suggest is get a good grip on the Sanity rules and how to apply them using AR&PL. There are things here that could be abused and drive the characters completely insane. I say use them sparingly; instead focus on the weirdness of it all. Not the mind bend weirdness typically one associates with the mythos. Translations of monsters would not be hard. Though the average CoC/CbG game is more about investigation. There is more doing in AR&PL, even if that doing isn’t always combat. Though they both have that in common.
Ghosts of Albion
I think there are plenty of good reasons to use Ghosts of Albion. First the there is more expectation that characters will do more in GoA than in CoC. Again monsters are easy to convert; most are in the Ghosts core book or could be found in any of the Buffy books. Secondly let’s address the elephant in the room. Zak may not have meant Alice to come off as an ersatz Slayer, but she kind of is. Or rather the Alice is the trope that the “Buffy” is trying to set up. All I am saying is that thematically they work well together or even as each other. Alices are not Protectors, but they can be weaker Slayers or Chosen Ones (Army of Darkness) in any case the rules in GoA have it covered.
Alice’s would get extra Drama Points (I would say 2 extra at starting). The leveling up table would be used for every 25 XP gained. Just allow her to take the appropriate Supernatural Qualities.
The Alice would be a 5-Point Supernatural Quality. I’d have to work out what is in it, likely bonuses to Charisma, Hard to Kill, but some drawbacks too. Nothing major and nothing more than 5 points.
The more magic-rich world of Ghosts works well for AR&PL too. And between Ghosts’ Supernatural rules, Angel’s demon rules and Buffy’s vampires you could make every type of vampire in the book and then some.
Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death
This of course might the best fit. Ravenloft, Masque of the Red Death is set on Earth in the Victorian era. It uses the same D&D system as AR&PL. Plus a lot of the changes that LotFP made to D&D can also be found in this book. Specialists are called Tradesmen in MotRD. While the other two can be “easily converted” this one does not have to be converted at all. You can even use the Alice as is.
Plus a lot of the strangeness in AR&PL can be explained by the power known as The Red Death. I would opt for the 2nd Edition version pictured here as opposed to the 3.x update from Arthaus/SSS/White Wolf. In fact going back through my Masque books I think this might be the one I would use for this.
You could travel the Orient Express and end up in A Red & Pleasant Land.
In any of the above cases I am much more excited to run this than under D&D or a clone.